Category Archive: Industrial Refrigeration

Debunking Myths About Ammonia Refrigeration

Ammonia refrigerant systems have been used since the 1850s and have always been valued for their efficiency and reliability. Ammonia refrigerant is used for cold food storage, ice skating rinks, and large-scale air conditioning systems. However, this chemical is commonly misunderstood, which has led to some persistent myths about ammonia refrigeration.

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Ammonia Refrigeration System

Because concentrated ammonia is so much colder than room temperature, it’s an excellent choice for keeping things cool. In a refrigeration system, the ammonia, which has a low boiling point in its liquid state, pulls heat from one area to allow it to dissipate somewhere else.

ammonia refrigeration system

Ammonia Refrigeration Myths

These are three of the most common myths about ammonia refrigeration:

Ammonia Is Too Dangerous

Ammonia is flammable in certain extreme conditions, and in large enough quantities it can cause irritation to your throat, eyes, skin, and more. However, as part of a refrigeration system, the odds of coming into direct contact with ammonia are low, especially because it’s used in conjunction with secondary refrigerants, thereby reducing the amount of ammonia that’s present in the first place.

In large industrial applications, there are a variety of regulations that must be followed to ensure safety for employees and visitors; when these regulation requirements are met, ammonia refrigerant systems are especially safe and effective.

Ammonia Will Make the Whole Area Smell Bad

While it’s true that ammonia has a distinct and unpleasant odor, it’s contained within the system and you won’t smell it at all—unless there’s a leak. If that’s the case, the bad smell is actually an advantage, because it will alert you to the leak and you can evacuate the area. You can smell ammonia before it exists in quantities large enough to cause physical irritation.

Ammonia Is Expensive

In fact, ammonia refrigerant can help you save money in a couple of ways. First, it’s less expensive than hydrofluorocarbons and many other refrigerant options. Next, ammonia is up to 39% more efficient than systems that use chlorofluorocarbons at low temperatures, which helps you save money on utility bills while boosting your eco-friendly image.

Benefits of Ammonia Refrigeration

Ammonia refrigeration has been in use for so long because it works so well. With proper safety precautions in place, ammonia refrigeration has advantages over systems that rely on chlorofluorocarbons.

  • Greater Efficiency: As mentioned above, ammonia refrigeration is up to 39% more energy efficient in cold temperatures and 32% in medium temperatures.
  • Ozone Safe: Ammonia doesn’t damage the ozone layer or contribute to global warming.
  • Lower Chemical Costs: Ammonia is significantly less expensive than other refrigeration chemicals.

industrial ammonia refrigeration

Uses of Ammonia Refrigeration

Pharmaceutical manufacturers, food processors, beverage companies, cold storage providers, and outdoor ice rinks all rely on ammonia refrigeration systems. Even though ammonia isn’t as common in air conditioners today, it is still an efficient choice for large air conditioning systems like you see in office buildings, hospitals, and airports.

Don’t let the myths deceive you: ammonia is a reliable, cost-effective, and safe choice for refrigeration. As a leader in industrial refrigeration, Kuhlman Incorporated offers custom design, installation, sales, service, and parts for ammonia refrigerant systems and other refrigeration solutions. Contact us to learn more about how we serve various industries, or request a quote to discuss your system requirements.

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A Guide to Industrial Ammonia Refrigeration System Components

Compressor RoomIndustrial ammonia refrigeration systems play an essential role in industrial applications and operations, of the food and beverage industry. They ensure temperature conditions remain at optimal levels for the facility’s products and/or processes by eliminating heat rather than, as commonly believed, creating cold.

As industrial ammonia refrigeration techniques and technologies advance, companies must stay updated on current best practices and parts to ensure their systems remain the most effective and efficient for their needs. This blog post focuses on the key components found in industrial ammonia refrigeration systems, highlighting how they work and what types are available to help readers identify which one is best for their facility. Industrial ammonia refrigeration systems are broken down to single stage and two stage, with different ways to feed the liquid to the evaporators (flooded, direct expansion, subcooled direct expansion, CPR feed and pumped liquid recirculated).

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Compressors are the Prime Mover of the Refrigerant

A compressor collects ammonia vapors generated in the evaporator and maintains its suction pressure. It can increase the ammonia pressure and temperature, by reducing its vapor volume through compression. Then it transfers the ammonia suction vapor developed in the evaporator to the condenser. The ammonia compressor is a part of the refrigeration that separates the high side discharge vapor and the low side suction vapor.  The energy cost of your refrigeration system will be greater than any other system in your facility, due to the operational cost of the compressor, therefore variable frequency drives (VFD’s) are added for variable load conditions. Depending on the system capacity, operating temperatures and load profile, a reciprocating or screw compressor will be the best option.

A photo of a condenser in an industrial refrigeration systemCondensers Reject Heat

The condenser is the system that handles the refrigerant after it exits the compressor. It rejects the heat that is absorbed in the ammonia refrigerant from the evaporator and compressor.  The high-pressure ammonia vapor changes state to a high-pressure liquid by transferring heat energy using an evaporative condenser.  An evaporative condenser that utilizes both outside air and water spray for evaporation.  To optimize the system operating cost a variable frequency drives (VFD’s) is added to the evaporative condenser.

Evaporators Absorb Heat

The last step of the refrigeration cycle is the liquid ammonia refrigerant moving into the evaporator. The evaporator absorbs unwanted heat from the target areas. As a result of the heat it absorbs, the liquid ammonia refrigerant vaporizes and returns to the compressor as low side suction vapor. There is an array of industrial ammonia evaporator options. These include:

  • Forced air draw thru evaporators
  • Plate and frame or shell & tube evaporators
  • Process air handlers evaporators
  • Jacketed process tanks and silos evaporators

An infographic that explains the functions of various industrial refrigeration system components

Learn More About Industrial Ammonia Refrigeration Systems from Kuhlman

Want to learn more about industrial refrigeration systems? Ask the experts at Kuhlman Incorporated! We have provided turnkey ammonia refrigeration system solutions to the food and beverage industry for over 60 years. Our representatives would be happy to answer and address any questions and concerns you may have about industrial ammonia refrigeration systems.

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Understanding Industrial Refrigeration

Although COVID-19 has caused a great deal of disruption in many industries, the global industrial refrigeration sector is considered essential, continues to grow, and plays a vital role in a wide variety of the food and beverage industry. For proper functioning, industrial refrigeration systems rely on different components and types of refrigerants to create cool conditions.

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What Is Industrial Refrigeration?

Industrial refrigeration is the process of removing heat from an enclosed space, or from a substance, and moving it to a place where it is unobjectionable.  The primary purpose of refrigeration is to lower the temperature of the enclosed space or substance and then maintain the lower temperature.

Refrigerants for Industrial Refrigeration

An empty ice rink cooled by industrial refrigeration systems

A refrigerant is a substance used in the refrigeration heat transfer cycle for moving heat from one region to another.  It must be capable of reversible phase change from liquid to vapor and then from vapor to liquid under a range of reasonable temperatures and pressures. Up until 1987, the most used refrigerants were ammonia, halocarbons R12, R502, and R22.  In 1987, The Montreal Protocol put halocarbons on the hit list, and replacement freons become popular in the commercial and industrial refrigeration industry.

R-134a HFC Refrigerant

This refrigerant is known as the replacement for R-12 and is used in various heat pump applications and other commercial refrigeration needs. In the future, it is predicted to be phased out across the world.

R-404a HFC Refrigerant Blend

This refrigerant is known as the replacement for halocarbons R12, R502 and R22, and is used in various commercial refrigeration needs. R404a is extremely high in global warming potential and is not the most efficient refrigerant. Due to this, it will also be eventually phased out of use.

R-744 Carbon Dioxide

This refrigerant is known as the replacement for halocarbons R12, R502, and R22 and is used in various commercial grocery stores and ice rinks’ refrigeration needs. R-744 is a natural refrigerant, but unlike other natural refrigerants, there is not a safety concern. With hydrocarbons, you have the flammability risk, with ammonia you have the toxicity risk, but with CO2 the safety risk is minimal. To be used as a refrigerant, carbon dioxide must run under extremely high pressure, which includes the pipes, components, and everything else that goes along with the machine.  If lesser components are used, then you pose the risk of constant failure due to the high pressures.

Ammonia

Ammonia is one of the top picks when it comes to industrial refrigeration such as meatpacking Dairies, large cold storage warehouses, and breweries’ plants. Ammonia is 18% more efficient than freons. Ammonia is chosen as it is highly regarded as the most energy-efficient refrigerant out there. The downside is that ammonia is toxic and can also be slightly flammable. Because of that, OSHA, PMS, RMP, EPA documents need to be developed and monitored.

industrial compressor refrigeration station at manufacturing factoryComponents of Industrial Ammonia Refrigeration Systems

Industrial ammonia refrigeration systems are broken down into single stage and two stage, with different ways to feed the liquid to the evaporators. Namely, flooded, direct expansion, subcooled direct expansion, CPR feed, and pumped liquid recirculated.

Compressor

  1. It is the prime mover of the refrigerant through an ammonia refrigeration system.
  2. Collects ammonia vapors generated in the evaporator and maintains its suction pressure.
  3. The compressor can increase the ammonia pressure and temperature, by reducing its vapor volume through compression.
  4. The compressor transfers the ammonia suction vapor developed in the evaporator to the condenser.

The ammonia compressor is a part of the refrigeration system where there is a separation between the high side and the low side. It is designed to accept vapor only. If ammonia liquid enters the compressor, there exists a high probability of severe damage to the compressor known as liquid slugging. The compressor uses more energy than any other component in an industrial ammonia refrigeration system.

Depending on the type of industrial refrigeration system in use, there are an array of industrial compressor options. These include:

  • Reciprocating Compressor
  • Screw Compressor

Condenser

  1. The purpose of an ammonia condenser is to reject energy (heat) that the refrigerant absorbed into the system at the evaporator and compressor.
  2. The ammonia condenser is the place where the refrigerant superheated ammonia vapor changes state back to a liquid when heat energy is transferred out of the ammonia refrigerant.

Depending on the type of industrial refrigeration system in use, there are an array of industrial condenser options. These include:

  • Air cooled adiabatic condenser
  • Water cooled plate and frame or shell & tube condenser
  • Evaporative condenser

Evaporator

  1. The purpose of an ammonia evaporator is to absorb heat from the area or product to be cooled.
  2. The Ammonia liquid vaporizes when heat is transferring into the refrigerant.

Depending on the type of industrial refrigeration system in use, there are an array of industrial evaporator options. These include:

  • Forced air draw thru evaporators
  • Plate and frame or shell & tube evaporators
  • Process air handlers evaporators
  • Jacketed process tanks and silos evaporators

Depending on the type of industrial refrigeration system in use, there is an array of industrial ammonia components that make the system complete. These include:

  • Isolation and control valves
  • ASME pressure vessels
  • Ammonia pumps
  • ASME pressure piping system
  • Ammonia system safety controls
  • Operating control system

An infographic explaining the different parts of an industrial refrigeration system

Industrial Refrigeration Solutions From Kuhlman Inc.

Since 1957, Kuhlman Inc. has been dedicated to providing our customers with the highest quality industrial refrigeration solutions. We work closely with each client throughout every step of the process, from engineering and design to installation and continued service of the completed refrigeration system. To learn more about our industrial refrigeration solutions, contact us today.

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